Report by Ray Hopper
Bounders International Tour to Madrid, 2012
(or rather the Bounders Last of the Summer Wine Tour)
The following is a true record of proceedings. No attempt has been made to neither disguise the guilty nor change the names of the innocent. Truth has not got in the way of a good story and for those who have never been away on an international tour these things actually happen, well at least to the Bounders on tour. Oh, and yes we were there to run and to uphold all that is honourable of British athletes.
For the most competitive of the Bounders fraternity the race results were:
Shelagh – 1.03 in the 10k
Mike Gill – 4.14.41 and 2 pit stops. Half split 2.01
Ray - 3.42.31 and 1 major pit stop (Mike had tried to nobble me by giving me one of those gels which resulted in a sit down in a little portaloo on the way around). Half split about 1.58.
For the rest of you “are you sitting comfortably then I’ll begin ……..”
Madrid has been a long standing marathon destination for the Bounders. It was originally chosen as I have contacts in the city, it was cheaper to run than the London Marathon but more so because of its relaxed, informal atmosphere and the historic run goodies. This year it was part of the Rock and Roll Series which created some apprehension as we felt that the American influence might affect the goody bags – in a negative way. There is also a 10k run at the same time. And incidentally / by the way there are 350,000 café/bars in the city.
Shealgh, and now honorary Bounder Richard, travelled separately from Manchester arriving earlier. Shelagh was our 10k rep with Mike and myself travelling from Edinburgh as this years’ marathoners.
Naturally the marathoners immediately went into full true Bounders training mode even en route to the airport with Mike dismissing the pasta myth with a full English with chips.
And so to Airport security – as the carer companion I explained the plastic bag and liquids scenario, however it only part sunk-in as Mike was stopped and his bag searched, which resulted in an extremely large tub of Vaseline being dumped. Bag went through again and yes another search and shaving cream discovered. For myself it was simply a body frisk (edit Mike..by a big hairy Jock, the female rejected him)
With a delayed 1 hour take off and Shelagh and Richard having done cultural arty things and waiting in our favourite bar in Madrid, we therefore ignored hostal registration and went straight to the bar where, in true Grey Horse spirit, we were the last to leave with ourselves then finding something to eat and getting into the hostal at 02.30 am. (Please note this was somewhat after our usual bedtimes and was effectively the day before the race).
Richard doing culture.
Up and off to registration. Almost at registration and Mike discovered he didn’t have his passport as proof to get his number so we went around the typically commercial exhibition leaving him to return to the hostal for his passport. Not many freebies this time but you collect your chip; number; T shirt and for ourselves a rucksack type bag, arm pouch for i-pad/phone and for Shelia a mug (subsequently swopped with Mikes rucksack bag)
Met up with Mike eventually, and then off to what had been Ray’s (Ramon) bar near the exhibition. Unfortunately ‘Ray’ had gone (the recession or retired we never found out) but who cares we managed to stay for what were the best tapas and cheapest drinks of the trip.
Back into the city for thick chocolate and churros for yet another mega sugar fix. Here we discovered the only thing which keeps Sheila quiet….. (apart from a good glass of red)
Shelagh on the pull.
A siesta was called prior to the pre-race evening meal – an eat-all-you-want buffet. It did however have some pasta – don’t think any of us had any however. Back to aimless wandering, a bar, a skinful again, and then an early 12.30 am finish! Just the sort of pre-race preparation that Bounders excel in.
Up at 07.00 for breakfast prior to the short stroll to the start. The usual ritual takes place but this time with a twist and here we need to recall the earlier Vaseline incident.
Mike was getting worried about his small bits and he and Richard had tried two Farmacias to buy some Vaseline. He had been offered lip salve and ended up buying two expensive small pots of something. Mike, in getting ready had disappeared to the bathroom and emerged shouting the immortal phrase “my nuts are on fire” whereupon he frantically disappeared into his case for some new Y fronts, cleverly at the same time sluicing down certain parts of his anatomy. The “Vaseline” turned out to be some form of deep heat! A John Wayne walk to the start commenced. Apparently it was all Richard’s fault in asking for lubricado – boys will be boys.
The start was the usual corals which everyone ignores; the 10k were mixed with the marathoners; and there is the usual quest for a toilet – this year there were we think 17 portaloos for the 10,000+ field – Shelia was impressed. No offensive marshalls to tell you what you cannot do – the Great North Run it is not.
Started off with Sheila (Mike having disappeared as we were talking). You are able to start running straight away. The course this year was again slightly changed but there is always an uphill start. After a few kilometres the 10k’s turn off and rather delightfully they all clap the marathoners off embarking on their great adventure!
The run goes around the city, past the Kings palace, and through one of the largest parks – the Caso de Campo. This is perhaps the hardest stretch and has been the downfall of past runners (e.g. Barry and Don, the latter not quite arrested but that is another story). At times in the run you can only run 2 abreast as the crowds come in – Tour de France style. There are spectators all around the course and this year there were also 21 rock bands performing. The crowds are some what Latin enthusiastic.
In terms of the run the only negatives/positives are that the course isn’t as flat as some; some runners join in for a while and then drop out – very Spanish; and the inline skating medics who dispense medical aid, freeze spray and yes Vasalina! but, are in and out of the runners all the time. Apparently over 9,500 finished and there were 120 proper medical treatments. The temperature at the end was 17-19C.
The last few kilometres are uphill and then there is a 1km downhill to finish in the Ritero park. Here many runners have their little kids join them (in pushchairs and some are carried on shoulders) for the final run over the line.
Through the finish, the rather modest medal (ironic for those who have seen it), and then the queues for the goodies. Unfortunately this year no free beer bar (suspect the American influence here) or water melon slices which are great after a run!
The goodies included as many powerades as you could carry; water; quaker oats with fruit juice (a new one to me); coke; iced tea; oranges and bananas; energy bars; fruit juice boxes; bags of nuts. The trick is to use your space blanket as the carrying vehicle. Plenty of queues for the massages.
We all returned separately and yes met up in a bar for drinks prior to an evening on the town (as recommended by Richard’s Rough Guide) and unbelievably an early before midnight finish.
Monday we all went our separate ways, Shelagh and Richard returning to Blighty and Mike and myself having a traditional trip out of the city – this time a train journey to the walled heritage city of Avilla,home of El Cid. Wandered around its walls and visited two hostelries (one twice) – everything else was closed. Evening was spent in a very chilled out bar eating tapas and trying local wines, very plesent.
Returned on Tues after a morning sitting in various squares in the sun and supping ale. The usual frisking at airport security (edit Mike – once again Ray frisked by a hairy Spaniard) and the call again for volunteers to load their luggage onto the plane??? Returned to reality of a wet Britain and no car at the park and fly car park. They / we had the collection day wrong and yes the car was off site.
The verdict – another excellent trip. Whilst I am biased, as it is one of the only cities I really like, Shelia will give you an independent view for both types of culture (their four hours wandering around an art gallery, the people watching and café bar culture, and those outside the cinema ). It is a city which doesn’t really sleep and be prepared for some disturbed nights and I don’t just mean Mike’s digestive system (Dilley all is forgiven). As to the run, for those that want a change, less hassle than one of our British runs, it is worth a try. I can also guarantee that you won’t be overtaken by some plonker in fancy dress. However, you must follow the true Bounders training and pre race regime and not get too serious about the running.
Ven y prueba el proximo ano.